Sun, Nov 28, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Indian fans expect win in test cricket over South Africa

AP , Calcutta, India

Pressure is building on the Indian team from millions of home fans to deliver its first home test series victory in two years when it take on South Africa in the second and final test today.

Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, cleared to play in the match after the International Cricket Council rescinded a two-test ban it had placed on him, said he was aware of the expectations from his side that failed to make an impression against the inexperienced South Africans in the drawn series opener at Kanpur.

"This is a very important test match for us, we must win this time," said Ganguly, acknowledging that the cricket-addicted nation won't be satisfied with anything less than a series-clinching triumph.

"Statistically, we haven't won a test series at home in two years, but then we've just played New Zealand last year and Australia last month," Ganguly said.

New Zealand held India to draws in both tests last year, but Australia clinched a 2-1 triumph marking its first series win on Indian soil in 35 years.

Ganguly said a placid pitch was responsible for the drawn first test at Kanpur earlier this week, but the Eden Gardens track in the eastern Indian metropolis of Calcutta appeared to be a result-oriented one.

"We're all hopeful of a result at Eden Gardens, but we need to play well to be on the winning end," said Ganguly.

Until Friday, the Indian skipper faced the prospect of having to sit out the test match in his hometown. That was until the ICC's appeal commissioner, New Zealand's Tim Castle, reversed match referee Clive Lloyd's decision to ban Ganguly for two tests for the Indian team's repeated violation of the bowling overrate.

Ganguly said he would now be able to concentrate on leading India in the stiff contest against a young but determined South Africa team, which is hoping India might wilt under pressure from its supporters.

"There is a huge expectation from India, which happens for a home series everywhere," said South Africa coach Ray Jennings, who felt the pressure might intimidate the Indians and help the touring side.

"We frustrated the Indians in the first test at Kanpur, now all the pressure is on them," Jennings said, pleased with the gritty effort of his team that adapted well to the Indian conditions and dominated the opening test.

Seeking to build the pressure on the Indians, South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his team was motivated by its past performance on tours of this country.

AP, ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada

Captain Brian Lara and 15 other leading players were allowed to attend a training camp next week by the West Indies Cricket Board following mediation over disputed contracts on Friday.

The dispute has jeopardized a tour of Australia in January, and it wasn't immediately clear how close the board and West Indies Players Association were to settling all their differences.

But Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, who mediated Friday's talks, said the 16 players axed by the board would be attending the three-week training camp starting tomorrow in Barbados. Mitchell, chairman of the Caribbean Community, and Barbados Sports Minister Reginald Farley met board and player representatives separately then together.

"We are hopeful for a resolution," Kusha Haracksingh, a legal consultant for WIPA, said before the talks. Later, Haracksingh confirmed the players would attending the Barbados camp.

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